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Ugly: A woman is painting an abstract work in shades of black, white and grey

Remembering Ugly

The opening of the Ugly exhibition was definitely one to remember. It was moving, diverse, vibrant and energetic.

It proved a challenge to commit to paper all the facets of the evening. So, we settled on trying to capture a quote from each artist who spoke at the opening, and pair the quote with an image of the artist’s work. Please note that this was not possible in all cases, as not everyone spoke and one work (Consistency of Silence, 2018, by Georgia Cranko) was not captured as a quality still photograph.

About Ugly

Ugly was an exhibition of work by a number of artists from the Emerge 2017 program. The program is an engagement project of Front Up, an arts and culture hub founded by Ability Options, that connects emerging practitioners living with disability with professional artists.

The Ugly exhibition opened on 19 July, and was held in the Ideas Platform at Artspace in Woolloomooloo. Leading up to the exhibition, the artists interrogated the challenging and subjective notion of ugliness.

Quotes and images from the artists

The artists who spoke at the opening responded to questions from artist Liam Benson. The conversation focused on the participants’ arts practice, the importance of community and what was gained through the creative process.

Virginia Bucknell: “It’s made me realise why I paint landscapes. It’s because I feel ugly inside. I want to put that aside and move to where things are pleasing and harmonious.”

Ugly: an artwork featuring trees with leaves, water and boats

Trapped – Untrapped – Released (detail), 2018, by Virginia Bucknell

Davida Bache: “I’m a forgotten Australian. I’ve applied for the redress scheme. I wanted to put something out there to show what I had been through.”

Ugly: a vertical abstract artwork in black, white, grey and red

Origins of Ugly (detail), 2018, by Davida Bache

Cobie Ann Moore: “The ugliness is in the happiness that is fake.”

Ugly: an artwork of ink on paper featuring a smiling face on a grey background

Happy Face Advantage, 2018, by Cobie Ann Moore

Lisa Hughes: “My work is the photos of the tulips which shows the ugliness of decay. That is a metaphor for life. There is a cycle of ups and downs. It doesn’t always turn out bad. The buds might bloom again.”

Ugly: a photograph of orange tulips in a pot. There are living bits and dying bits.

Tulips (still from video installation), 2017, by Lisa Hughes

Georgia Cranko: “Before beginning the work on our pieces, Lola (Pinder) arranged for us to meet with the resident artists so we could get a sense of what Artspace actually does. Lola has been so encouraging and obviously that’s great for me to feel like what I make matters.”

Linda Ogonowski: “What was appealing for me about this project was the idea of being part of an arts community, of having a place and a voice. I think it brought down imagined barriers.”

Ugly: an image of a yellow flower with an orange center is projected on a mold of a person's face

An Intimate Terror Verses the Exhuberant Exploration of the Suburbs (still from video installation), 2017-18, by Linda Ogonowski

Shelley Kay: “I love community-based work. Every single person is capable of arts practice. You are getting in contact with your humanity and spirituality.”

Ugly: a painting of four faces in a row with red vertical stripes separating them

Horrid Little Faces (detail), 2017, by Shelley Kay

Rosell Flatley didn’t speak at the opening but her work was a vibrant performance piece called In-dai. This memorable work sought to challenge the ugly misrepresentation of Filipinas by Western tourists who portray them as seductive and immoral.

Ugly: A woman is wearing clothing from the Philippines and is reaching her arm out and placing food in the mouth of a man

Rosell Flatley performing In-dai, 2018. Photo by Liam Benson

Kim Graham didn’t speak at the opening. But these are her words from the program: “I have issues with addiction. I would like to stop but I love a cigarette so much. Hopefully it will be possible. They are extremely expensive and a deadly serious, ugly habit.”

Ugly: a pile of empty cigarette boxes with health warnings

Up In Smoke (detail), 2017, by Kim Graham

To learn more about the work of Front Up, you can visit their website. Artspace, the hosting venue, can be visited here.

Feature photo: Davida Bache painting Origins of Ugly at Artspace, 19 July 2018.

This page was first published on 21 August 2018. This page was edited on 28 August to add a photo of Rosell Flately in performance.